The article, by Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply, is intriguing for a variety of reasons, including the way it seeks to get a handle on the tactics of the lawyer for the Kirby family, Marc Toberoff. But what I liked best were the insights about the nature of the overall comic book industry. And the most resonant part of all was the observation that the legal dueling would reignite a huge discussion about the relative importance of Kirby's contributions compared to those of co-creator Stan Lee, writer and editor.
No kind of mystery interests me more than sorting out the credit for collaborative genius. I think that's because I'm so dubious about the notion of anything with real creative energy being even a roughly 50-50 effort. My guess is that it's more like 70-30 every time, and in the case of Kirby-Lee, my curiosity is persistent, given the cultural power of their work.
It's trendy to lean toward Kirby as the bigger influence. I lean toward Lee, perhaps because a good deal of the material Kirby did without Lee leaves me completely indifferent. But it has been a long time since I heard any minutia obsessed fanatics debate the topic intensely enough to do real honor to comic book geekdom. I'm going to be delighted if it actually ends up chronicled in the Times.